I visited the London Transport Museum as a child, but I imagine a lot will have changed since then; also, I can’t remember most of it. So I decided to visit again on Wednesday, after a visit to the Library (which I had arranged on behalf of one of the library groups I am a member of).
The Museum underwent a complete refurbishment a few years ago, and looks very smart. Housed in the old Covent Garden Flower Market, the old and the new fit together very well. The Museum is set out in such a way that you travel through time over two hundred years of history. This is great fun – you get into the lift and as it takes you up to the second floor, you can see the years counting down!
The first part of the Museum looks at the methods of transport available before the railway. London had a much lower population than it does now, and most got about by walking, except for the rich, who ventured out in contraptions like these:
As far as the river was concerned, most people crossed via boat: London Bridge was the only bridge for several years. Back on land, different kinds of carriages monopolised the roads, and horse-drawn buses became popular:
The Museum then covers the history of the London Underground, starting with the steam-powered Metropolitan Railway and following with the electrical trains of the Tube.
From then, the museum’s scope widens further: it continues to explore the role of railway transport – including the Underground – but also encompasses trams, buses, taxis and – to an extent – cars.
Towards the end, mention is made of cycling, and there is a reference to the forthcoming CrossRail line.
I also took the opportunity to visit the exhibition Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs. Curated to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground network, it displays 150 of the best posters created to promote the Tube. Viewers are invited to inspect them all and vote on their favourite.
Address: Covent Garden Piazza, London, WC2E 7BB
Opening Hours: 10am-6pm (11am-6pm on Friday)
Prices: Adult £16.00, Concession £13.50, Child £2.50; under-18s free